Love meets technology with a dash of quirk in this collection of highly original short stories
An aspiring actress meets an Icelandic Yak farmer on a matchmaking Web site. An online forum for cancer support turns into a love triangle for an English professor, a Canadian fisherman, and an elementary school teacher living in Japan. A deer and a polar bear flirt via Skype. In The Hypothetical Girl a menagerie of characters graze and jockey, play and hook up in the online dating world with mixed and sometimes dark results. Flirting and communicating in chat rooms, through texts, e-mails, and IMs, they grope their way through a virtual maze of potential mates, falling in and out of what they think and hope may be true love.
With levity and high style, Cohen takes her readers into a world where screen and keyboard meet the heart, with consequences that range from wonderful to weird. The Hypothetical Girl captures all the mystery, misery, and magic of the eternal search for human connection.
Through the "tangle of wires and laser signals" of the Internet, the characters in this first collection of stories from Cohen, author of the memoir The Family on Beartown Road, explore the frontiers of online romance, "where no human foot could tread." In "Death by Free Verse," Myra, a poet, engages in an e-mail flirtation written in limericks with a world-traveling man until she breaks form with a free verse love poem that is met with a mysterious silence. A wealthy 31-year-old Icelandic yak farmer and a 23-year-old model and aspiring poet meet on Catch.com, in "People Who Live Far, Far Away," only to discover each has something to hide. And in the title story, a woman believes she is vanishing after a man online tells her she's hypothetical. With desperation or ambivalence, obsession or just plain hope, Cohen's characters navigate the mysterious etiquette of digital-age romance, often getting lost in the fever of a potential idyllic relationship that falters by the first date. Though many of these stories parallel each other and occasionally slip into bitter, cynical narratives, Cohen is at her best when she departs from conventional romantic comedy plots and explores what we think about when we anticipate love.